Tips for Rookie Cooks

Soups

1-Caramelized Onion Soup with Parmesan Lace

Caramelized onions add something special to any dish they accompany. Why not make them the featured attraction? This comforting, robust soup lets them take center stage, in all their rich, sweet, savory glory

  • ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • Parmesan Lace (page 161), for garnish

Melt butter in a stockpot over medium heat until it is melted and beginning to bubble. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring often, until onions are soft and golden brown (30 to 40 minutes). Add salt, pepper, thyme, and flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and broth, increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 12 to 14 minutes, until soup is reduced a little and flavors start to meld. Taste, and add additional salt if needed. Ladle soup into serving bowls, garnish each with a few pieces of parmesan lace, and serve immediately

2-Asian Yellow Gazpacho with Spicy Cilantro Pesto

When it’s so hot that you don’t even want to turn on the stove, this refreshing soup is just the thing. With its striking color combination and bright, refreshing flavors, it’s the perfect dish for a summer day.

  • 1 pound yellow tomatoes, stem ends removed, quartered
  • 2 cups chopped seedless yellow watermelon
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 medium shallot, peeled and quartered
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼–½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups (packed) fresh cilantro (leaves and stems)
  • 2 serrano chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (from about 1½ limes)
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce or soy sauce

In a blender or food processor, combine the tomatoes, watermelon, bell pepper, cucumber, shallot, 2 cloves of garlic, rice vinegar, salt, and pepper and process to a chunky purée. Pour into a pitcher or bowl and refrigerate, covered, until well chilled (at least 2 hours or overnight). Give the blender or food processor a quick rinse and then add the cilantro, remaining clove of garlic, and chiles and process until minced. Add the sugar, olive oil, lime juice, and fish sauce or soy sauce and process to a fairly smooth purée. Ladle the chilled soup into bowls, garnish with a dollop of pesto, and serve.

Make it ahead

  • The soup and the pesto can be stored in separate covered containers in the fridge for a couple of days.

Serve it with

  • A spicy shrimp salad and tortilla chips
  • Scallop Ceviche with Papaya and Chiles (page 51)
  • Chilled Soba Noodle Salad with Shrimp, Avocado, and Grapefruit in Wasabi-Lime Vinaigrette.

3-White Gazpacho

This traditional Spanish soup is less famous than its tomato-based kin but just as wonderful. Its unassuming milky whiteness and silky-smooth texture conceal serious flavor. Serve chilled, with a garnish of green grapes and almonds and additional bread to dip. And don’t tell any Spaniards we said this, but it’s also good warmed up.

  • 4 cups bread cubes from rustic white bread, crusts removed
  • 3½ cups cold water
  • 1½ cups blanched almonds, divided
  • 1½ cups seedless green grapes, divided
  • 1–3 small cloves garlic, peeled
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Combine the bread and water in a bowl and let soak for 5 to 10 minutes. In a blender or food processor, purée bread, water, 1 cup almonds, ½ cup grapes, 1 clove of garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and salt. Taste and add the additional 1 or 2 cloves of garlic if desired. Continue blending until the mixture is almost perfectly smooth. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve or strainer, taste, and add additional salt if needed. Serve chilled, garnished with the remaining almonds and grapes.

Make it ahead

  • Make this soup a day ahead and it will only get better as the flavors meld.
4-Garlic Soup with Asparagus and Poached Eggs

The famous food author and editor Ruth Reichl said it best: “If everyone ate more garlic, the world would be a happy place. garlicky broth, boasting a minimum of seven cloves of garlic per serving and studded with bright green asparagus and shimmering poached eggs, will make you and yours very happy, indeed.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small heads garlic (about 20–22 cloves), cloves separated, peeled, and smashed with the side of a broad knife
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • ½–1 teaspoon kosher salt (depending on the saltiness of your broth)
  • 1 pound asparagus, woody ends snapped off, cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 2 large eggs
  • freshly ground black pepper for serving

Heat oil in a stockpot over low heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 to 12 minutes, until just barely beginning to turn golden brown. Add broth and ½ teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 60 minutes, until broth is fully infused with garlic flavor. Remove garlic cloves with a slotted spoon. Taste, and add additional salt if needed. If more garlic flavor is desired, mash 6 to 8 (or more) of the cooked garlic cloves with the back of a fork and stir into the broth. Raise heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, add asparagus, and cook for about 3 minutes. Crack the eggs into the soup. Simmer the eggs and asparagus in the broth for 4 minutes more, until asparagus is tender and egg is poached but the yolk is still runny. Ladle the soup into two bowls, placing one egg in each. Top with freshly grated Parmesan and freshly ground pepper, and serve immediately.

Make it ahead

  • The soup can be made a couple of days in advance up to the point of adding the asparagus. Store, covered, in the fridge. When ready to serve, bring the broth to a boil over medium-high heat, add asparagus, and follow the rest of the instructions.

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